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Bill on Pritzker’s desk could help transgender Illinoisans with IDs, birth certificates

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(The Center Square) – Illinois could soon allow transgender residents to change out-of-state birth certificates and IDs, if the governor signs a bill on his desk.

House Bill 5507, which passed both chambers, creates a process by which transgender Illinoisans born in other states can obtain a judicial order to change the name and gender marker listed on their identity documentation, like a birth certificate. State Rep. Kelly Cassidy argued it’s a public safety issue if transgender residents don’t get their documents changed to reflect their preferred identity.

“Having identity documents that don’t match your gender is a public safety issue. This is a life or death issue for folks,” said Cassidy. “It’s very simple to create a pathway for folks who are now here in Illinois but maybe were born elsewhere…last I checked we all really like it when people choose to come to Illinois, so let’s make it possible for residents to live their best lives.”

House Bill 5507, which is expected to be signed by the governor, seeks to allow Illinois judges to issue findings of fact to support residents in their application for gender marker changes in other jurisdictions.

State Rep. Dan Ugaste said the legislature has designed laws to allow changes to a birth certificate, but the legislature shouldn’t be crafting legislation that steps on other states’ toes.

“Here in Illinois we’ve designed our laws to allow for such changes, other states may or may not have … but whether or not these states have allowed or will allow these changes even if there’s a finding of fact in Illinois, we’re going to go ahead and use our court’s time and have findings of fact made in here in Illinois,” said Ugaste. “Most of us here don’t want other states telling us how to operate, or what we to do or what findings of fact we should make in our state.”

HB 5507 is currently on the desk of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, who is likely to sign it. Although it’s unclear if he has taken a public position on the bill.

Senate Minority Leader John Curran argued Illinois courts don’t have jurisdiction in cases where transgender Illinois residents born in other states seek to make changes on their identifying documents, like a birth certificate.

Illinois is one of 15 states that have enacted a law or executive order preventing courts from complying with out-of-state subpoenas in cases where a transgender child travels to Illinois seeking transitioning care. Curran said Illinois courts have no jurisdiction over the issuing authorities in other states or countries in regards to birth certificates.

“The petition to change a certificate is not before an Illinois court, it would be before a court in another state,” said Curran. “No where else do we allow or require Illinois courts to issue court orders on a matter that is not properly before them. If this bill passes it would now require Illinois courts to issue court orders in a matter where Illinois courts lack jurisdiction.”

State Sen. Michael Hastings argued that the Illinois Constitution allows the legislature to create justiciable matters. Hastings said Illinois courts can exercise jurisdiction to resolve a justiciable question when there’s a petition.

“The petitioner is an Illinois resident and has to file the petition in their county of residence, this creates personal jurisdiction,” said Hastings.

Hastings and Curran are both lawyers.

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